Western Skink

Eumeces skiltonianus

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Status

Special Concern (Federal)
Blue List (Provincial)

Description

Skinks are a small lizard up to 8.3 cm long. They are black-brown, with a slightly pointed head, short legs, and a very long slender, pointed tail. Four light colored stripes (2 on the back and one on each side) extend from the head down to the base of the tail. The tail is a shocking electric blue and will fade and darken as the skink ages. Occasionally the tail is rounded and shortened - this indicates the skink has 'dropped' its tail to get away from a predator and is regrowing it. Regrown tails are brown.

Habitat

Rocky terrain
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Grassland
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From April to October, Skinks prefer rocky habitats such as large rock piles, talus slopes, and rugged terrain, often with a southern aspect, which include decaying logs, vegetation, and leaf litter that provide a source of cover and insect prey. During the winter they hibernate in burrows below the frost line.

They can be found east to Creston, west to Princeton and north from the U.S. borderto Enderby (possibly Sicamous)

Threats

-Habitat modification and fragmentation from residential development, road construction, and the removal of rock debris
-Intensive livestock grazing (they remove the grassy layer that skinks use as cover)
-Predation by domestic cats
-Illegal pet trade

You Can Help!

-Protect rocky habitat areas, including those with natural vegetation litter
-Avoid development of rocky areas
-Leave large rocks, woody debris, logs, vegetation, and other "messy" areas undisturbed
-Reduce intensive livestock grazing
-Keep pets indoors
-Report pet stores that sell the Western Skink

Photo: Alexis Friesen
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Photo: Valerie Blow
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